NBA Rookie Power Rankings Week 11

We’re back with the 11th version of our NBA Rookie Power Rankings for the 2017-2018 season. The Rookie of the Year race is shaping up to be a three player race at this stage of the season with the potential for a couple of others to sneak in with a strong finish over the next few months. Some rookies are beginning to get consistent and put it all together, while others are getting healthy and starting to play up to their pre-NBA billing. Let’s get to the rankings for Week 11, shall we?

1. Donovan Mitchell – Utah Jazz

Mitchell holds onto the number one spot in the rankings for the second straight week. While Utah is struggling to stay healthy, the Louisville product continues to show promise each and every time out, as he is quickly establishing himself as the franchise player that will fill the void left behind by Gordon Hayward. While he had a week highlighted by volume scoring (6-17 and 6-13 performances from the field against the Pelican and Nuggets) he continues to show that he is the best scorer in the rookie class. Utah has a pretty solid core around him and as he continues to develop, learning to make other players better is going to be paramount in him becoming a potential superstar.

2. Ben Simmons – Sixers

As discussed last week, December was not as plentiful for Simmons as the months of October and November were, but the first of week 2018 saw him show signs of bouncing back. The number one spot on the rankings could be in the near future once again. In two Sixer wins, he averaged 22.5 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds in under 30 minutes per contest. Those numbers would have been much higher if the Sixers/Pistons game on Friday was even remotely close (a 114-78 Sixers win). Simmons returns to action on Thursday in London against the Boston Celtics and fellow rookie Jayson Tatum. He will look to continue to get back to the form he was in during the first two months of the season.

3. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuz has struggled over the past couple of weeks, but struggles happen for rookies. They get exasperated when you play in Los Angeles, you play on one of the youngest teams in the league, and your franchise has parents/coaches clashing. Kuzma has struggled from the field over the last five games (35.8%) and is averaging just 13 points a game over the same time frame. Kuzma is going to find his shot again and he will pick it up, but you have to wonder if the rookie wall and the Big Baller Distraction are beginning to take a toll on the rookie at the same time as we dive into the new year.

4. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

The Celtics keep winning, even with Tatum having one of his quieter weeks as a pro, offensively speaking. He chipped in 15 points and 5 rebounds against Cleveland and 14 points and 6 rebounds against the Nets. However, his 4 points against the Timberwolves are a career low, but my guess is the rookie is more than happy with the win and the overall position that he is in. Tatum has been playing well defensively and it shows the long term potential that he possesses on both ends of the floor. He has a chance to make a statement on Thursday in London against Philadelphia.

5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

If there is one word to describe the Finnish products rookie season so far, it would be consistent. Markkanen opened up 2018 on a tear, averaging 17.2 points, and 8.4 rebounds a game in his first 5 games of the calendar year. Even more impressive were his shooting averages for the week; 56.1% from the field, 50% from 3 and 87.5% from the free-throw line. While the Bulls have fallen back to Earth after a red hot stretch in December, Markkanen is one of many reasons for Bulls fans to be excited for their future.

6. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavs

Dennis Smith has been both hurt and inconsistent at points during his rookie campaign, but continues to show flashes of brilliance. He started the new year strong with 14 points and 8 assists against the Warriors, while also contributing 15 points and 7 assists against the Bulls two nights later. He had 11 points and 5 assists against the Knicks in a matchup with Frank Ntilikina (remember LeBron’s comments about the two after a Cavs/Knicks game earlier this season), however he sat during crunch time. That is a lesson Rick Carlisle will use to teach the young point guard and make hopefully him better in the future.

7. John Collins – Hawks

Collins had a pretty quiet and inefficient week, by his lofty standards if you’ve been following this very column, but he has still had a good rookie campaign thus far. Minus the time that he has missed, he has been one of the the premier rookies and is still leading in PER (21.06) among the first year guys. He is still shooting 58.4% from the floor, while averaging 10.9 points and 6.9 rebounds per game in just 22 minutes per night. He has a chance to rebound this week against the Nuggets and the Nets, and it will be interesting to see if he can get back on track and move his way up these rankings in the future.

8. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

While his dad made headlines yet again this week for comments about the Lakers and Head Coach Luke Walton, and with the Big Baller Classic debut abroad in Lithuania, Lonzo still found a way to have a good week coming off of an injury. He averaged 12 points, 7 rebounds and 5.5 assists per game over his first two games back, and continues to handle himself well with the media, despite all the negative attention surrounding his family at the present time. As Ball continues to get healthy it will be interesting to see if he can continue to find his shot, his place within the offense and start to realize the massive hype train that has followed him over the last few years.

De’aaron Fox makes his way back into the Rookie Rankings with a strong week for the Sacramento Kings

9. Bogdan Bogdanovic – Kings

The Serbian product is quietly continuing to have one of the better rookie seasons in the entire league. Older than most rookies (25), he has provided a steady, reliable presence in the Kings back-court to counter the injuries and inconsistency surrounding some of their younger players. He notched double-digits in points and averaged 5 assists per game over his last 3 contests and has all the looks of a guy who is going to stick in the NBA for the next decade. While Bogdanovic does not have the long term potential of his teammate De’Aaron Fox, he can offer a steadying presence that will help the Kings as long as he plays in Sacramento.

10. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

Fox has been notably absent from these rankings for the last few weeks, but now that he is finally healthy he is making a triumphant return. In his first 3 games back against the Spurs, Nuggets and Hornets, the Kentucky Point Guard is averaging 15.3 points, 7 assists and 3.3 rebounds per game. He is also shooting 50% from the floor over this stretch and looks as if the game is starting to slow down for him (a scary proposition with how fast he is). Fox has tremendous long term potential, but the Kings may have to be patient with his development over the course of the season. The Kings are young and they are bad, but Fox has to give the fans some hope for the future.

 

Honorable Mention

Jordan Bell – Warriors
OG Anunoby – Raptors
Bam Adebayo – Heat
Frank Ntilikina – Knicks
Frank Mason – Kings
Dillon Brooks – Grizzlies
Josh Jackson – Suns
Maxi Kleber – Mavs

NBA Rookie Power Rankings – Week Three

We’re back for the third installment of our 2017-2018 Rookie Power Rankings. Rookies are now closing in on their first month as NBA players; adjusting to the travel, lifestyle and the pace of play. Some rookies have remained steady in their production, others have started to adjust and show their potential that got them drafted in the first place. Before we dive into what the rankings shake out to in Week Three, let’s take a look back at last week’s installment:

1. Ben Simmons – 76’ers
2. Jayson Tatum – Celtics
3. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers
4. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls
5. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz
6. John Collins – Hawks
7. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks
8. De’Aaron Fox – Kings
9. Lonzo Ball – Lakers
10. Mike James – Suns

Honorable Mention:
Malik Monk – Hornets
Dillon Brooks – Oregon
Josh Jackson – Suns

1. Ben Simmons – 76ers

Another week, another #1 ranking for Ben Simmons a top of our Rookie List. The Sixers rookie has remained steady through the first few weeks of his NBA career, turning in averages of 17.4 points, 9 rebounds and 7.8 assists per game, while continuing to shoot 48.6% from the field, despite shooting 17 for 47 (36%) from the field during week number three of his rookie campaign. Simmons is the rookie of the year favorite, but it will be interesting to see if he can continues to hit shots at his current clip as we get deeper into the regular season.

2. Jayson Tatum – Celtics

Tatum begins another week coming in at the #2 spot and as a starter for the NBA’s best team, the Celtics (12-2). Tatum is averaging 13.7 points and 5.7 rebounds a game, and he is doing it while shooting 50% from the field and 3 point range, and chipping in 82.7% at the line. Tatum has been efficient and a major contributor for the league’s best team. It will be interesting to see if he can keep pace with Simmons and others while not being a major focal point within the offense. Regardless of if he can hold onto the 2nd spot, Tatum is proving himself worthy of a top 3 selection in the 2017 NBA Draft.

3. Dennis Smith Jr. – Mavericks

Smith Jr. topped off a great week with some high praise from LeBron James, who thinks the Knicks made a mistake passing on the NC State rookie for Frank Ntilikina. While that statement is something to dive into another time, there is no doubt at how impressive the Mavericks rookie has been early on in his rookie campaign. Smith averaged 21.5 points, 7.5 assists and 6.5 rebounds over the course of two games over the past week. Smith is as fun to watch as any rookie in the league and is starting to produce at a higher level. Smith may be the strongest candidate to make a run at Simmons throne atop the rookie rankings.

4. Kyle Kuzma – Lakers

Kuzma continues to be the best rookie on the Lakers and is showing some of the massive potential that should make him a cornerstone of the Lakers franchise for years to come. He had two double-doubles this week (Grizzlies + Bucks), while missing out by one rebound against the Wizards on Thursday night. He is shooting great from the floor (51.6%) and the line (81.3%), but struggled from beyond the arc this week (2-11 for 18%). Kuzma will have to develop more consistency from beyond the arc as his career progresses, but it is hard to argue with his output a month into his inaugural season in the league.

5. Lauri Markkanen – Bulls

Markkanen suffered an ankle injury Saturday night against the Spurs, but has continued to impress while healthy for the Bulls. He is averaging 14.5 points and 7.8 rebounds per game for the lowly Bulls, while showing a versatile game that has to excite Bulls fans for years to come. Markkanen injured his ankle stepping on Rudy Gay’s foot close to halftime, and suffered what is described as a minor sprain. Hopefully Lauri can get healthy (and stay that way) ASAP as his development is paramount in the Bulls building a foundation for the future.

6. Donovan Mitchell – Jazz

Mitchell struggled early on in the week in games against the Sixers and the Heat, but rebounded nicely with 26 points against the Nets on Saturday night. Mitchell struggled from beyond the arc (5-22 for 23%), but has shown an innate ability to get into the lane and create opportunities for himself and his Jazz teammates, while defending at a pretty high level for a rookie (although Dion Waiters gave him trouble down the stretch against Miami). Consistency will continue to be a key for Mitchell as we progress through the rest of the season, but he has a chance to make a push into the top 3 as he continues to become a bigger part of the Utah offense.

7. Lonzo Ball – Lakers

In what was a tumultuous week to say the least for the Ball family abroad, the Lakers rookie started to take some steps in the right direction during his third week in the league. Ball became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, as he made work of the Bucks to the tune of 19 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds while blocking 4 shots and shooting 7-12 from the field and 3-5 from three. Ball is still struggling from the field, but is starting to generate better looks for himself and he can hopefully use the Milwaukee game as a stepping stone for the foreseeable future. As his shots start to drop, Ball will continue to rise up the rookie charts over the course of the season.

8. John Collins – Hawks

Collins had a nice outing against the Pistons on Wednesday (16 points and 8 boards), but struggled in the two other contests he played in this week and as a result saw his ranking drop a few spots. I am still high on Collins and think he is going to be a great piece moving forward for the Hawks, but he took his lumps against two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference (Washington and Boston). The Hawks are outscoring their opponents while Collins is on the floor, and is getting outscored by double-digits (on average) when he is on the bench. Collins will rebound and move up the rankings in the future, but this week served as his “Welcome to the League, Rook” moment number one for the 2017-2018 season.

9. De’Aaron Fox – Kings

While the Kings continue to struggle with the 2nd worst record in the league (3-9), Fox continues to show the skills and athletic ability that made the Kentucky product a great selection in the 2017 lottery. Fox is averaging 11.9 points, 5.2 assists and 3.3 rebounds playing 27 minutes a night. Fox still remains one of the lone bright spots, on one of the youngest teams in the league, but it will be interesting to watch him develop alongside Skal, Cauley-Stein, Buddy Hield and Harry Giles (who has yet to play this season).

10. Mike James – Suns

James continues to play at a high level for the Suns, a team who continues to struggle in the early going. James is averaging 12.4 points, 3.9 assists and 3.1 rebounds a game, and continues to flourish in the Phoenix offensive system working with Tyler Ulis to replace the production of former Suns PG, and new Buck, Eric Bledsoe. James averaged close to 15 points, and 4 rebounds during his 4 outings this week, although he saw his minutes decline against the Timberwolves on Saturday night. It will be interesting to follow this development over the course of the season, and if he can keep up his current pace.

Honorable Mention:

Malik Monk (Hornets)
Josh Jackson (Suns)
Frank Ntilikina (Knicks)
Dillon Brooks (Grizzlies)

Tune in next week for the 4th Installment of HG Insider NBA Rookie Power Rankings. Also don’t forget to join the conversation on Twitter. Let us know who we are missing and who you think will make a run at the top.